Designing a worship experience around the commandments seems a daunting task. Yet it need not be a heavy or finger-wagging experience. Instead, it could focus on the commitments we make to one another within the life of the community of faith. It could be a celebration of who we are as the body of Christ. It could be a reminder that we live in covenant with one another.
It could also become a time of confession. It could be a time of admitting that we might live up to the letter of this law, but that we don’t approach its spirit. Like Jesus pointed out to us, we might not have killed anyone, but we might have wished them dead with our words and our hatred. This could be a time of healing, not so much healing of bodies as healing of relationships. Worship can be, must be, a time of binding us together.
It takes courage, certainly, to be vulnerable enough to admit brokenness. But part of the promise we celebrate is the promise of community. Let this be a time of celebration of harmony: the harmony of the body who lives defined or described by these words that we celebrate. Make space for confession, corporate and individual. Provide silence as a way of bringing the people before the vision of these words. Let there be a cleansing, a way of throwing away the confession and embracing the grace; a way of moving beyond the rending of hearts into the claiming of the promise. Or even being a sign of the promise by how we choose to be the body of Christ together.
Whether worshiping online or in person, give a safe space for this movement from rending to claiming. Set up private chats with pastors or Stephen Ministers if available so that folks can be heard. Or suggest avenues for healing the broken relationships. Provide inspiration to make the first step. Starting with a simple “I’m sorry” can often be the means to bring about a whole new start.
The key is to not wield these words like a hammer, but to hold up this vision of living in community as an invitation, as a choice that the world has not yet tried. And maybe it is time the church leads by example.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.